Century Software’ s TinyTERM
Century Software’s TERM series of products has been available for many years now, gathering a devoted following of users who need access to UNIX systems from Windows-based machines. TinyTERM is the base model of the series, but provides features for most Windows users at a reasonable price. There are three TinyTERM versions. TinyTERM Thin Client Edition offers telnet access to UNIX hosts over a standard Ethernet network and is compatible with both Citrix’ MetaFrame and Windows NT’s Terminal Server. TinyTERM Plus Edition offers both UNIX and IBM access, as well as enhanced tools on the Windows desktop for printer sharing and drag-and-drop file movement. Finally, TinyTERM Web Server Edition offers access to UNIX applications over Web browsers allowing access from anywhere on the Internet to applications.
The most disappointing component of the latest generation of TinyTERM is the documentation, or rather lack of it. The box contains a CD-ROM, a single page of installation notes, and an inch-thick chunk of styrofoam. Century’s previous versions of TinyTERM came with a booklet that helped administrators and users get running with the product, and is missed here. Century tries to make up for lack of a printed user guide with on-line documentation although it is a little lacking.
Installation is simple using Window’ Autorun feature. There are six versions of TinyTERM on the CD-ROM, the three Editions mentioned earlier (version 4.03 of TinyTERM ) as well as copies of the older 3.3 release in Basic, Plus, and Professional versions for machines that cannot handle long file names (like Windows 3.X). There are signs of a rushed product in the installation procedure of the new versions: dialogs don’t flow properly, spelling and grammar mistakes pop up at intervals, and the whole installation routine seems much slower and awkward than it needs to be (we had to repeat some steps three times before the installation program accepted the commands). A 30-day evaluation is included with the package; after that you need a license and activation key. The CD-ROM can install all three Editions of TinyTERM allowing you to play with the packages before committing to a license, a nice touch for those who are unsure of the features their users will need. The ability to test before buying also may help Century sell more copies of the Web Edition, which otherwise may have been ignored by many administrators.
Once TinyTERM is installed you have a number of tools at your disposal, depending on the version of TinyTERM. We mainly tested the Plus Edition as that is the most likely to be rolled out to LAN-based customers. The FTP client allows you to drag-and-drop files back and forth between UNIX and Windows, behaving like a modified Explorer interface. NFS clients and LPR routines worked well, although they are not as capable as some much-more expensive NFS client packages on the market. The telnet sessions worked as you would expect, providing a number of emulations for access to UNIX hosts. We had no trouble matching TinyTERM to SCO UnixWare 7 and SCO OpenServer 5 hosts, as well as HP-UX 10.2 and Solaris 2.7 servers. We briefly tested access to an IBM mainframe using the IBM terminal emulator, too. Accessing UNIX applications through a Web browser was a little unusual at first (using the Web Server Edition) but we quickly saw the utility of allowing customers anywhere on the Internet to access the system. While many sites may not find this feature useful, some will find it very handy.
System Administrators will find a number of handy features with TinyTERM. For example, an administrator can manage UNIX hosts from a Windows desktop, as well as administer user access to those hosts. Client software can be installed both locally and remotely from either UNIX or Windows machines, allowing company-wide installations from a single console. The emulator window’s look-and-feel can be modified to behave more like any custom applications you may be running. For users, TinyTERM behaves well, although some configuration gotchas may trip the casual user up until they are aware of connection procedures. On the whole, though, this latest release of TinyTERM adds several new features and provides three levels of product to tailor TinyTERM to your requirements.